The Battles of Saratoga (September 19 and October 7, 1777) conclusively decided the fate of British General John Burgoyne's army in the American War of Independence and are generally regarded as a turning point in the war. The battles were fought eighteen days apart on the same ground, 9 miles (14 km) south of Saratoga, New York. Burgoyne's campaign to divide New England from the southern colonies had started well, but slowed due to logistical problems. He won a small tactical victory over General Horatio Gates and the Continental Army in the September 19 Battle of Freeman's Farm at the cost of significant casualties. His gains were erased when he again attacked the Americans in the October 7 Battle of Bemis Heights and the Americans captured a portion of the British defenses. Burgoyne was therefore compelled to retreat, and his army was surrounded by the much larger American force at Saratoga, forcing him to surrender on October 17. News of Burgoyne's surrender was instrumental in formally bringing France into the war as an American ally, although it had previously given supplies, ammunition and guns, notably the de Valliere cannon, which played an important role in Saratoga. Formal participation by France changed the war to a global conflict. This battle also resulted in Spain contributing to the war on the American side.
The first battle, on September 19, began when Burgoyne moved some of his troops in an attempt to flank the entrenched American position on Bemis Heights. Benedict Arnold, anticipating the maneuver, placed significant forces in his way. While Burgoyne succeeded in gaining control of Freeman's Farm, it came at the cost of significant casualties. Skirmishing continued in the days following the battle, while Burgoyne waited in the hope that reinforcements would arrive from New York City. Militia forces continued to arrive, swelling the size of the American army. Disputes within the American camp led Gates to strip Arnold of his command.
Concurrently with the first battle, American troops also attacked British positions in the area of Fort Ticonderoga, and bombarded the fort for a few days before withdrawing. British General Sir Henry Clinton, in an attempt to divert American attention from Burgoyne, captured American forts in the Hudson River highlands on October 6, but his efforts were too late to help Burgoyne. Burgoyne attacked Bemis Heights again on October 7 after it became apparent he would not receive relieving aid in time. In heavy fighting, marked by Arnold's spirited rallying of the American troops (in open defiance of orders to stay off the battlefield), Burgoyne's forces were thrown back to the positions they held before the September 19 battle and the Americans captured a portion of the entrenched British defenses.
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